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U T L I N E. 


Chapter I - Introduction 

I. Criticisms of youth ---------- 1 

A. Unfavorable criticisms ------ 1 

1. Revolt of youth 

2. Different from preceding 


3. Fundamental nature of protest 

B. Favorable criticisms ------- 2 

1. Responsiveness of youth 

2. Not irreligious 

3. Failure to believe creeds 

II. Purpose of study ---------- — 3 

A. Meaning of religious attitude - - - 3 

B. Religious experience of students — 3 

C. Student's evaluation of existing 

religious agencies -------3 

III. Limits of investigation ------- — 3 

A. American college students ----- 4 

B. Brief statements of student 

opinion in- -----------4 

1. France 

2. Russia 

3. England 

IV. Procedure ------------- - — 4 

A. Surveys of college students - - - - 4 
3. Methods of securing information - - 5 

1. Questionnaires 

2. Interviews 

3. Conference reports 

4. Books 

5. llaga,zine articles 

Chapter II - Religious Beliefs of Students 

I. Leaning of Religion ---------- 6 

A. Old ideas of religion -------6 

1. Belief in creeds and dogmas 

2. Outward conformity to theolog- 

ical doctrines 


B. Lew ideas of religion 

1. Different approach of young people today 

a. Belief in religion itself 

b. Failure to believe outward manifes- 


c. Religious attitude 

2. Influence of psychology 

C. What religion is-------------- — 8 

1. Definitions of religion 

a. By adults 
b« By students 

2. Religious experiences of college students 

a. Types of conversions 

(1) Definite Crisis Awakening 

(2) Emotional stimulus Awakening 

(3) Gradual Awakening 

b. Frequency of different types of 


c. College students ideas of conversion 

D. Heaning of religion for younger generation - - - 11 
II. Findings from recent surveys of college students - - 11 

A. Sources of surveys ---------------12 

1. Evanston campus 

2. University of Washington 

3. Reed College, Portland, Oregon 

4. Survey of twenty-three colleges 

reported in book Und e rg radua t e s 

5. Church Advertising Department 

3. Religious beliefs of students- ---------13 

1. Belief in God 

2. Concept of God 

3. Belief in Bible 

4. Prayer 

5. Belief in Jesus 
5. Church attendance 

C • General effect of university life on religious 

attitudes of students -------------20 

1. Influences effecting beliefs 

a. Science courses 

b. Attitude of professors 

c. Campus organizations 

2. Results of influences 

a . Favo rable 

b. Unfavorable 

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Chapter III - I nfluences Causlnr; Present Attitudes 

I. Home Conditions of present generation ------ 23 

A, Conditions during late nineteenth century- 24 

1. Colleges generally under church control 

a. Orthodox "beliefs of teachers 

b. Science not yet widely studied 

2. home conditions 

a. Religious practices of family 

b. Traditions "beginning to weaken 

3. Social life 

a. Church centered 

b. Pleasures in home 

4. Economic situation 

a. Population changing 

b. Inventions perfected 

c Changes in living conditions 

B. Present conditions contrasted -------26 

1. Llodern social life 

a. lloving picture shows 

b. Books - magazines 

c. Sports 

2. Parental authority 

a. Care of children given to others 

b. Parents interest in other things 

3. Children's attitudes reflection of 
home surroundings 

II. Effect of War - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 28 

A. Time of great excitement -------- — 28 

1. newspaper a.ccounts 

2. Usual customs forgotten 

B. Present college students at impression- 
able age at time of war ---------- 28 

1. Life not normal 

2. Parents breaking proprieties 

3. Failure to exercise authority 

III. G-rowth of Scientific Spirit - -- -- -- -- -- — 29 



E. Opposition of the church to new met hoc. ----- 30 

1. Aroused antagonism 

2. Students followed science 

C. Effect of students study of science ----- — 30 

1. Stages in their reactions 

a. Lose emotional spontaneity 

b. Troubled with theological 

c. Stop praying 

2. Influence of science professor 

a. Generally helpful 

b. Pseudo- scientists 

IV Changing conceptions of Education --------- — 31 

A. Purpose for which colleges founded ------- 31 

1. Harvard - 16 36 

2. Yale - 17 01 

3. Other colleges founded during 
Colonial Period 

B. Laws influencing religious - -- -- -- -- 32 

1. Recognized church control 

2. Funds appropriated 

3. Morrill Act of 1862 

C. Changes in student "body - -- -- -- -- -- - 33 

1. Increased enrollment 

2. Type o: student 

3. Greater number of activities 

D. Function of college training -------- — 35 

1. Student judgment 

2. '"lay education does not prepare students 
for vocation of living 

a. Old idea of teaching 

b. Manner of handling necessary 
specialization of teaching 

c. Financial dependence of colleges 

3. Study of religion in colleges 

Chapter IV - General Trends 1 Student Thinkin g Regarding 
Religious Pro visions and Age ncie s , 

I. Provisions made by the schools ------------ 40 

A. Chapel Services ----------------40 

1. Compulsory 

2. Voluntary 

3. Present purpose 


B. Courses in Religious Education 

1. Need of courses 

2. Courses in denominational schools 

a. Evaluation of courses 

b. Reasons for conditions 

3. Courses in state schools 

a. History of courses in state schools 

b. Courses now given in universities 

c. Suggested methods of organization 

4. Value of courses inReligious Education 

a. Cultural value 

b. Personal spiritual value 

c. heeds of church revealed 

d. Vocational value 

Provisions made by the church ----- ------ 

A. Student criticisms of the church -------- 

1. Church out-of-date 

2. lion -progressive 

3. Hypocritical 

4. Lot facing present-day problems 

5. Failure to answer student's questions 

B. Conferences sponsored by the church ------ 

1. Value of discussion method 

2. Denominational conferences 

a. Uethodist students at 
Louisville, Kentucky, 1924 

b. Disciples of Christ students 
at Columbus, Ohio, 1928 

C. Churches in college centers ---------- 

1. Local church provisions 

2. Special provisions 

a. Student Pastors 

b. Denominational centers 

c. Evalus.tion of work 

. Provisions made by other agencies --------- 

A. Student Christian Associations ------- — 

1. Y/orld's Student Christian Federation 

2. Leadership of associations 

3. Z.W.C.A." 

a. Purpose 

b. Program 

c. Evaluation 
4 * 3T • Lll • C • A • 

a. Present policies 

b. Criticisms 

3. United Work Christian Associations - - - - 

1. Plan of v. T ork 

2. Evaluation 

IV. Student Conferences - — ------------ 

A. Conferences sponsored "by Y.1.1. and Y.T7. - - 

1. Summer conferences 

2 . Programs 

B. Interdenominational conferences ------ 

l a Student Volunteer conference 
at Indianapolis, Indiana 

a. Significance 

b. Topics discussed 

2. Interdenominational student 

conference at Evanston, Illinois 

a. Church conference 

b. Purpose accomplished 

3- 1'ational student conference at 
Hi lvr auk e e , Wisconsin 

a. Theme of conference 

b. Speakers- subjects 

c. Student problems 

4. Student Volunteer conference 
at Detroit, Michigan 

a. Interest in missions 

b. ITew policies and methods 

5. Evaluation of conferences 

Chapter V - Conclusion 

Chapter VI - Summa ry 


Chapter I 

The college students of one generation are 
continually being compared with those of previous generations. 
Youth is always interesting to older people, and especially is 
this true today because it is difficult for the older genera- 
tion to understand the actions of the present-day youth. This 
failure of the older generation to understand the actions of 
the present generation, is not a new situation, apparent^, 
for on an old cuneiform of 2500 B.C. recently discovered, 
were found these words; "Times are certainly bad. Children 

no longer obey their parents. Apparently the end of the 


world approaching". 

Today there are criticisms on every hand. The com- 
plaints in many instances are not fair, being based on insuf- 
ficient evidence, and conclusions about all young people drawn 
from the behavior of a few. The "revolt of youth" presents a 
striking phenomena of this day, not limited to one country or 
one age. It is not the kind of revolt that speaks of license, 
but of progress and increased happiness. 

In a sense, the younger generation is always in re- 
volt against old ideas and customs. G-reat possibilities or 
progress lie in the hands of the daring few of each genera- 
tion who have been tr ined to think for themselves and continue 
to do so. 

1 - Editorial, World Call, May 1928, p. b. 


There are apparent differences in dress, in 
manners and in speech today, but the revolt strikes much 
deeper than against these outward forms, striking the funda- 
mental values of life upon which modern civilization is based. 
It may be called a radical revolt in this respect of dealing 
with the root of problems rather than the surface manifes- 
tation s. 

Some of the younger generation are protesting 
against the organizations of religion as they see them today 
and with the church's attitude toward the problems of the day. 
Others are in revolt against religion itself, for to many of 
them it is an outgrown superstition that should be discarded. 

Against designating the present generation as 
'flaming youth' many well-known educators rise in protest. 
Henry F. Osborn, in his address as Honorary chancellor to 
Union College, said: "I take no part in depreciation of American 
youth because in my long experience I have found jrouth keenly 
responsive to what may be called the inspiration of the subject, 
eager to learn and to observe when shown how to observe, sensi- 
tive to beauty and truth, although very deficient in power of 

expression It is not our youth which is at fault, but 


our maturity. " 

Alfred E. Stearns, from Brown College, said: "Nothing 
is further from the truth than to say youth is irreligious. Dog- 
mas, creeds and forms are meaningless to youth, and formal 
religion repels, but there is a distinct difference between an 

2 - School and Society, The Cham pionship of Yout h y b- Henry F. 
Osborn, July 28, 192B7 p. 89. 



active religious interest and "being still at heart religious." 

This opinion of Mr. Stearns is shared by George W. Wickersham, 

writing in The Chu r chma n. He "believes that the youth of today 

are more 1 religious minded' hut less 'church minded* than In 

earlier generations. They are ready to accept Christianity as 

a way of life but ' "conventions and creeds of a conventional 


ecclesiast icism have been tried and found wanting." 

:;.r. John G-avit , a layman, made a.n investigation of 
thirty American colleges, living in each college from a few 
days to five weeks. He says that the two questions most fre- 
quently asked him about the young people in our American col- 
leges is: "Are they irreligious" and "Are they turning to rad- 
icalism"? His answer is emphatically 'No'. 

Purpose of Stud y . 

In view of these varying opinions, it is the 
purpose of this study to determine first what we mean by "the 
religious attitude" and then what the students themselves are 
thinking and saying about their religion, with their evaluation 
or present religious agencies. 


Our Study will be limited exclusively to a consid- 
eration of the attitudes of the college students of America. 
Brief mention may be made here, however, of a statement made 
by Mr. G-avit. He writes: "Of the present generation in America 
may be said very much what Henri Hertz said recently of the 
young people of France: 'It is a significant fact that it is 
not, or at least it is only rarely in theoretical discussions 

3 - Stearns, Alfred E. , The Challenge of Youth, W . A. Wilde Co., 

New York, 1923, p. bS~. 

4 - W"ickersham, George W. , The Episcopal churc h and the Youth 

of Today, The Churchman, Feb. 9, 1929, P. 22. 

or inquiries that the temperament of this young generation is 

displayed. .. .Our youth is weary of debate on the grand scale 

and considers professions of faith profitless. They see ana 

have seen too much of the discrepancy oetvreen prophecy and real 

ization 1 . 

In an article called "Russian Youth and Religion" 
we read that the youth of that, country has ceased to be in- 
different, and while the number of avowed atheists is increased 
the deep convictions of believing Christians are strengthened. 

The first conference of Russian and English youth to discuss 


church unity was held in January, 1927. 

Two thousand young people met at the Quadrennial 
Conference of the Student Christian Movement of Great Britain 
held in Liverpool in 1928. "The purpose of God" and "The 
glory of friendship" were the main topics, and their first 
concern was for the character of the message and the messenger. 

A detailed study of the youth of each country would 
reveal similar evidences of unrest and revolt, on the part of a 
few students. 

Proced u re. 

The attitude of college students toward religion 
has been investigated in a few colleges, and the results of 
several of these studies are available for our consideration. 
There are a few "basic convictions at work in the development 
of this movement toward, research. One is that college stu- 
dents face a life situation in which religious experience 
is put to severe and subtle strain's. Another reason is that 

5 - G-avit, John P., C ollege , Harcourt , Brace and Company, N.Y., 

1925, P. 24b. 
b - Editorial, World Call , May, 1928, p. 4. 
7 - Editorial, D hristia n C entury. Jan. 1929. 


future leaders will come from the ranks of college students 

and it is important that the leaders acquire constructive views 

and achieve a creative intelligence to religious interests. A 

third reason may be that it is valuable for science to secure 

an understanding of all phases of man's experience, including 


The questionnaire has been used in securing the 
information in most of the investigations. In the study made 
at Reed College, Portland, Oregon, personal interviews sup- 
plemented the questionnaire. The most recent study of the 
colleges, reported in the book Und e r g r a d uat e s was v, r ritten after 
the compilers had personally visited twenty-three colleges, in- 
terviewing students and faculty. 

Several books have been written by older people about 
college students, and their opinions 01 what students are think- 
ing will be compared with what the students themselves are think 
ing and saying, as expressed in their conferences and in their 
writings. There hav: been several significant conferences on 
religion held within the last few years. The speeches and dis- 
cussions from these conferences will be used as indicative of 
what one part of the student grou;o is saying about Christianity. 

We shall consider first, then, what we mean by the 
religious attitude and by religion, and the changing concep- 
tions of religion today from the older ideas of it. 

8 - Eickham, H. M. , Techniques for Studying College Students, 
Religious E ducation Magazine, IJarch 1928, p. 220. 



Chapter II 

Meanin g of Re l igion: 

"The problem of religion — that is, of 
the relations of man with the supernatural, with 
God and immortality, with the soul, our personality 
or the ego, and its existence or non-existence after 
death--is the greatest and deepest which ever confronted 
mankind . " 1 

These words from one considered the lost materialistic of 
scientists show the significance of an effort to find out what 
we mean "by religion. 

Old idea of religion. 

Considering first the ideas of what religion 
was several generations ago, we find that it was considered 
largely as a matter of conformity to traditional forms. The 
Bible was a revered and familiar sacred "book. There was a 
definite faith in God, and an assurance of what was right 
and what was wrong. There was religious sanction for moral- 
ity. In each church, there were definite dogmas and creeds, 
"belief in which were necessary for salvation. 

Those who still believe that religion is an 
outward conformity to theological doctrines, customary rituals 
and traditional moral codes are convinced that there is some- 
thing radically wrong with the religion of college students 

New con c ept ion of religion. 

But the religious approach of one generation 

may be different from that of a preceding one, and today we 

1 - Steinmetz , Charles P., Science and Religion, Harper' s , 
February 1922, 


are not primarily concerned with the formal creed, and the 
church, but with the inner experience. Many young people 
today know that religion itself is real, although orthodox 
religion has mainly concerned itself with creeds. We can- 
not he rid of the experiental fact of religion, phrased in 
different terms as it ma y be from generation to generation. 
Religious ktt itude i 

In answer to the question, What is an Atti- 
tude? let us compare it first with other possible attitudes. 
There are three possible attitudes that may be taken in the 
presence of mystery: (1) that of absolute collapse, which 
means defeat; (2) the attitude of common sense and science, 
of withdrawal for a time to get a new explanation which will 
meet the situation; and (3) the religious attitude, which after 
a similar withdrawal and consideration of facts, enables one 


to act with confidence without completely solving the mystery. 

Another good explanation is that given by 

Mr, E. J. Chave of the University of Chicago: 

"We regard an attitude as a complex, a 
complex of feelings, desires, fears, convictions, 
prejudices or other tendencies that have given a 
set or readiness to act to a person because of varied 
experiences. In religious education, the concern is 
for the development of attitudes toward God, toward 
prayer, toward the total meaning and worth of life, 2 
toward the ordinary tasks and responsibilities of life." 

Influence of Psychology. 

The psychology of religion is a compara- 
tively new subject, as such, and "its first and most far 

1 - Korton, W.M.« , Defining the Religious Attitude, The Journal 

of Religi on, Jan. 1929, p. 143. 

2 - Chave, E.J., Attitudes, Religions E ducation. April, 192 8, p. 315. 


reaching effect upon the concept of religion has been to 

free it from aHL supernatural I at ic connotations, and it has 


sharpened the distinction between religion and theology. M 

It has long been usual to speak of "the religious 
instinct", but now it is generally agreed that religion is 
not an instinct, nor even a sentiment baaed upon a group of 
instincts . 

E. T. Clarke aays that 

"modern psychology finds no natural depravity 
or so-called 'religious instinct 1 , but rather a native 
equipment of 'instincts' or 'drives', reflexes and cap- 
acities which possess no inherent moral qualities but 
which are capable of development In any direction, ac- 
cording to stimuli presented by environment. It finds 
a capacity for religion, which, in view of both nature 
and environment, is more than a passive possibility." 2 

What Religion is. 

Present-day writers on psychology of religion 

are in substantial agreement in regarding religion as a 

vital, necessary, human function which a man can and must 

continue to exercise, no matter what radical changes may take 

place in his attitude toward life. The younger generation is 

interested in religion, and there is increasing wonder as to 

what, after all, religion is. We are dealing with it more and, 

more in psychological terms. 

"Religion cannot be essentially described in 
terms of its temporary clothes, its churches and its 
creeds. Religion at its fountain-head is an individ- 
ual, psychological experience." 3 

Processor Weiman defines religion thus: 

1 - I.lorton, Walter H., Changesin the Concept of Religion Neces- 

sitated by Psychology, Religiou s Education , January 1928, p. 28. 

2 - Clark, E.T., Psycho l ogy of Religious Awakening , ...acmillan Co., 

New York, 1929, P. 93. 

3 - Fosdick, Harry Emerson, What Is Religion? Harper' 3 , I.Iarch,1929, 

p. 424. 


" Religion is man's endeavor to find that adjustment 
to G-od which will yield the most abundant life. God is 
precisely that object, whatsoever its nature may be, 
which will yfeld maximum security and abundance to all 
human living when right adjustment is made." 1 

Religiou s Ex perience of Col lege Students, 

In llr. Clark's new book, "The Psychology of Reli- 
gious Awakening", he defines religion as "an individual con- 


scious attitude toward and relationship with God. This book 
is the result of the study he made of 2174 college students, 
located in sixty schools, state and denominational, and in 
two summer assemblies. It is concerned only with the exper- 
iences of individuals who claim to be religious persons. In 
contrast to the old idea of the absolute necessity for salva- 
tion of a conversion' experience' , these students recognize 
conversion, in the old sense, as only one door, and an excep- 
tional one to the religious life. 

Thre e Type s of religiou s awaken ing. 

Three types of religious awakening are re- 
cognized: 1. Definite Crisis Awakening which only 6.7%> had 
experienced; 2. The Emotional Stimulus Awakening of 27.2%, 
and 3» The Gradual Awakening by which 66.1^ arrived at their 
religious consciousness. Among the persons forty years of 
age, the Definite Crisis cases were 35*&% as against 6.7% 
for the total group, showing that a decrease in such exper- 
iences has occurred in recent years. Religion for the 
younger generation does not come "all at once" but rather 
as a gradual development and therefore demands previous 
educational processes. It was found from this investigation 

1 - Weiman, W .A ., Religious Experience and Scientific L.ethod, 

2 - Clark, E.T., Psychology ofReligi ous Awakening , p. 93 


that 'stern theology 1 influences religious experience 
by inducing the Definite Crisis type of awakening, and 
as stern theology is disappearing, we may conclude that 
the Definite Crisis Awakenings will decrease. 

The youth of the country are eager for freedom, 
and are breaking through the shell of the past in order to 
live a larger life. In getting away from the institutional 
religion and coming to the religion of right living, they 
are more interested in the vital faith expressed in.common 
conduct s,nd experience than in the forms and creeds. The 
religion of many students today is centered in the personal- 
ity of Jesus. They will not be confused by the conflicts 
of old orthodoxy and accept Jesus, rather than the Bible s.s 
their authority. 

There has been unrivalled activity i. - . religion, 
due to literary criticism, a study of comparative religions 
and the philosophy and psychology of religion. "Religion 
has been taken from the clouds and revealed for what it is — 

the living experience of living men as they face ultimate 

mysteries. 11 

One college student writes: 

"in my mind, religious experience means 
the process whereby one keeps the inner source of 
spiritual povrer fresh and strong and true to the spirit 
of Jesus." 2 

A college man defines conversion as: 

"...the awakening in the soul of a man to 
the existence of G-od, and the relating of self, in ac- 
cordance with this awakening to the world and to a future 
life that is worth striving for." 5 

1 - Brown, Wm.A., New Signs in Religion, Yale Review t- vol.xvii. 

October, 1927, p. 119. 

2 - What Religious Experience Means to a College Senior, by a 

College Woman, Re ligi ous Education, Feb. 1925, P. 17. 

3 - Ibid, by a college man, p. lb . 




Religion is in a process of evolution today, as 
other things are, and the challenge to the young people is 
to discriminate between the old and the new, to translate 
the religious impulse and aspirations within them into terms 
that are consistent with all other knowledge they have today, 
and to preserve for the future the eternal values of religion. 
The danger of youth 1 s revolt is that in their desire for free- 
dom, for expression, they may fail to discriminate "between the 
true and the false, and so lose the real values 3n religion. 
There is always the conflict to life between the higher and 
lower self. Intelligence is needed in this search for the 
highest ideals, and then faith to strive constantly for their 

Finally, then, for the student generation, religion 
is not synonymous with church membership, but rather for them 
it means a reverencing of the highest in one's own life and in 
the lives of all others in society. 

Finding s from Recen t Surve ys of College Students . 

In an age when the importance of scientific research- 
is being stressed, it is natural that there should be research 
in the religious field, and several recent investigations of 
the religious attitudes of college students are available for 
our use. A comparison of the general results will be indic- 
ative of the trend of student thinking, for in all the studies 
mentioned, a cross-section of the student group was taken, and 
the surveys were made in colleges in different sections of the 


Source of s urvey s: 

1. Evans ton Survey: 

On the Evanston campus, a questionnaire 

was filled out by 1600 students, 74-8 men and 901 women, se- 


lected at random from all colleges and classes. 

2. University of Washington: 

A much smaller group was studied at the 

University of Washington, where 200 students in a Sociology 

class were asked to fill out a questionnaire. A cop5 of 

this questionnaire is given, with the results, for it is 

illustrative of the type of questions asked in many of the 

surveys, and in most points, the results are corroborated 


by the other investigations. (See questionnaire on fol- 
lowing page. ) 

3. Reed College, Portland, Oregon: 

A small group of 33 seniors at Reed 

College, Portland, Oregon, were interviewed in order to 

obtain their religious beliefs. This group is considered 

in order to comoare the results from the Questionnaire 


method and the personal interview, 
h, Un d e r p; r ad u a t e s ; 

The results of the most recent study 
of college life has been published in a book called "Under- 
graduates" . Twenty-three institutions, "scattered in fif- 
teen states from Kansas to New Hampshire, afforded an oppor- 
tunity to study state and privately controlled foundations, 

1 - Eetts, George H., Religious Attitudes and Activities of 

University Students: A Report, Re ligious Ed ucatio n, Nov. 192?. 

2 - Bain, Reed, Religious Attitudes of College Students, Amer ican 

Journal of Sociol ogy, vol. 32, p. 762. 

3 " Glr jo£i§^e H ltn^S^ Changes In The Religious Attitudes of 

college Stuaents, Religious mucation, February , l 9 28,p. 159. 


Religious Attitudes of 200 College Students 
(78 Llale, 122 Female) 

University of Washington 

All Female Male Sr.Mea 

Questions No. Ygg No. Ygg No", Y£g No. 

m 1 

1. Is God a Person? 

2. Is God an imper- 

sonal force? 









* (9) 









3. Does God inter- 

fere in the worl( 

4. Was Jesus Very- 


5. Was Jesus a man- 

ifestation of 

6. Was Jesus human 


7. Was Jesus horn 

of a virgin? 

8. Was the Bible 

verbally inspired 
by God? 

9. Is the Bible a 

general inpira- 
tion from God? 

10. Is the Bible a 


11. Is the Bible a 

account ? 

12. Do you believe 

in the resurrec- 
tion of the bodyi 

13. Do you believe 

in the eternal 
life of the 

14. Do you believe 

that personality- 
persist after 

15. Do you believe in 

reward and pun i si 
after death? 

16. Do you favor laws 

compelling Sunday 















37. 5 

xy u 

Od • O 

J. -LU 

Od • ( 



1 • - 1 - 

































OD. f 

























































25.0 _ 

* " Columns 2,4,6,8 contain the total number answering each question. 

** - Indicates percentages. 
Taken from Journal of Sociology, vol. 32, p. 763. 


coeducational and non-coeducational institutions, rural 

and urban locations, and small} large and medium size 

stud.ent bodies. All were visited betv/een January and 

October, 1924, and half of them were afterwards revisited 


by one or more of the inquirers." Interviews were arran- 
ged for with persons who were likely to be best informed re- 
garding the subject in question. In the section we are most 
interested in, on Religious Practices and Beliefs , a ques- 
tionnaire from 674 seniors regarding changes in their atti- 
tudes, habits a.nd beliefs since coming to college was used 
to supplement the interviews. 

5. Church Advertising Department. 

The Church Advertising Department of 
the International Advertising Association sent 3. question- 
naire to one hundred widely distributed colleges, and replies 
were thus received from several thousand undergraduates. The 
same questions had been submitted to tie public through a news- 
paper poll. The results from this one test showed 'hat there 

is not such a wide divergence between the beliefs of the older 


and younger generations, as is sometimes supposed. 

Religious Beliefs of Stude n ts. 

We shall consider now the general trend of student 
thinking in regard to some of the fundamental questions of re- 
ligion, as revealed by these questionnaires. 
Bel ief in God. 

That students lose their belief in God 

1 - Edwards7 Artman, Fisher, Und e rg r adu at e s , Doubleday, Doran & 

Co., Inc., New York, 1928, Introduction, p. ix. 

2 - Youth Gives Lie to Gossip, Literal?; D igest , April 30,1927. 


during college years is a cry often heard.. The result of 

all of the investigations prove the contrary, however. 

In the Reed College investigation, the la.rgest 

group conceived of G-od as a ""being who purposes or strives 

for some end"* G-od is defined as "a spiritual force a,mong 

other forces in the world, using matter as a medium or form 

of activity". A second group would not attribute purpose 
to G-od, but conceived of Him as a force. To a third group, 
God means "the reign of law" and they feel that no supernatur- 
al power aids or controls man. A few students held panthe- 
istic ideas, while four of the group considered, denied the 
existence of a supreme being of any sort, saying "All reli- 
gions are wild shots into infinity". 

The Washington investigation shows that 61,6% 
considered God an impersonal force and 15*1$ considered Him 
as a Person. 

In the Church Advertising questionnaire, 9%% 
of the students said they "believed in G-od. The Undergra d- 
uate investigation shows similar facts of "belief, for they 
found that the number "avowing disbelief or definite skepticism 

was noticeably small, being one per cent of the men and one 


per cent of the women." 

2. Concept of G-od. 

The concept of God changes decidedly during 
college days. The majority of students come to college with 
only vague ideas of God, many of them holding their childish 

1 - Religiou s E ducation, February 1928, p. 160 

2 - Undergraduat es , p. 244 


conceptions of an anthropomorphic God. There are three 
lines of growth evident: gradual development from child- 
hood "beliefs without serious doubts and violent reactions; 

an entire reconstruction after serious doubts and. difficul- 


ties; and a process of reconstruction still going on. For 
the majority, the growth is gradual. The more important 
changes in the conception of God are from the idea of God 
as a human being to a non-personal being, from a judge to a 
God of love, and from a human to a spiritual being. The 
experiences accompanying these changes show definite lines 
of growth, generally from the unreal and unsatisfactory to 
the abiding and satisf3*ing. The change from fear to love, 
from moral obligation to freedom, and from passive accep- 


tance to cooperation are some of the changes experienced. 

The experiences of all students do not agree 

with these, however, as some of the quotations from Unde r - 

graduates will indicate: 

"When I came to college God meant 
something I feared or prayed to when in trouble. 
Now I am not sure of the nature of God. Sometimes 
I doubt that He exists. I am, however, trying to 
keep my mind open to conviction." 

"Formerly a great loving spirit, personally 
interested in each of his children, and very close to 
one's heart, guiding and comforting. Now an abstrac- 
tion, impersonal, unheeding, "the principle of the con- 
servation of value." For three years I was distinctly 
religious after coming o college, "believing in prayer, 
communion, etc., until within a fen weeks the study of 
The Philosophy of Religion by Hoffding and some other 
reading, robbed my« religion of all the usual signifi- 
cance of the term. 3 

1 - Searles, Herbert L. , An Empirical Inquiry Into the God Ex- 

perience of College Students, Religious Educat ion . August 
1926, p. 334. 

2 - Ibid, p. 337. 

3 - Undergrad u ates , p. 246. 


3. Be lief in Bib le, 

The student generation today holds very 

different views of the Bible than the old orthodox views of 

literal interpretation and inspiration. In answer to the ques 

tion,"Do you believe the Bible inspired in the sense that no 

other literature could be said to be inspired?" 82*5 answered 

"yes". The Reed College finding, that the Bible is thought 
of in terms of historical and literary criticism, is corrob- 
orated by the statements from the other studies. 

The large majority of students seem to believe 
that the Bible presents a good working code of ethics, a beau- 
tiful piece of literature, and a history of significance, 
though not entirely authentic. The study of science g reatly 
influenced the revision of their ideas as to the literal 
truth of the Bible, but it is nevertheless considered the 
foundation-stone of practical religion. 

Very, very few students were found who read 
the Bible with any degree of regularity. For most of them, it 
is a closed book, only looked at occasionally through curios- 
ity. The Unde rg r a duat e study is the only one which gives 
definite figures on this point, so we cannot check their fig- 
ures with other studies. They found that 7% of the students 
questioned read the Bible regularly, 39% of the men and hl% 

of the women read it occasionallv, and the others read it 


seldom or never. 

1 - Church Advertising Questionnaire, Literar y Digest , April 

30, 1927. 

2 - Undergraduate s , p. 244, 


4. Prayer. 

The answers to the questions about prayer 
seem to indicate that students today believe in it mainly 
because of its psychological effect on the individual. 
"Prayer has certain natural effects, but has no relation- 
ship to any idea of3-od" is the attitude of one group at Reed. 


Another group believes that prayer affords an outlet for the 


emotions and crystallizes the desires". The main reason 
given for the changed attitude toward prayer was that be- 
cause of the e xperience with ineffectual prayer, the super- 
natural ideas of the power of prayer were discarded. 

A fourth of the women and one-seventh of the 
men in the U nde rg raduat e study ranked prayer as "the most 
important source of help in living a good life". In the 
Church Advertising study, 9Q^ said they believed in prayer 
as a means of personal relationship with God. Prayer is 
probably more common than either Bible reading or a belief 
in creeds. There seems to be evidences of a reviving inter- 
est in prayer as a means of spiritual renewal. Many books 
are being written dealing with the subject, and groups are 
discussing the meaning of prayer in an attempt to find its 

5« Belief in Jesus. 

In all the investigations, there is marked 
agreement in the place given Jesus. The Church Advertising 
study asked the question: " Do you believe that Jesus was 
divine as no other man was divine?" to which &9fo answered "yes". 
1 ~ Heligiou s~ Educaf,ion , February 1928, p. 161. 


Large majorities of both men and women in the Undergraduate 
study considered that the life of Jesus set the ethical stan- 
dard fornodern life, while in the Washington questionnaire, 
62,6% considered Jesus as a manifestation of God, and ~55»6% 
thought Jesus was human only* 

There has come a new human appreciation of 
Jesus from good courses on His life and teachings, and the 
desire to get "back of all traditions and "beliefs a/bout Him 
is evidenced in such a statement as the following: "Jesus 

is not as great a factor in modern life as He should be. He 


has been obscured by religious organizations." 

6 . Churc h Attendanc e. 

"The young people are deserting the churches." 
"To the college student of today, the church is far away." 
To what extent are these statements true? There have been 
many articles written dealing with this subject, in addition 
to the surveys mentioned previously. 

Percentages attending church: 

The Evanston survey gives special emphasis 
to this problem. It was found in that study that 75% of the 
number studied claimed membership in some church. The ques- 
tion about church attendance showed that 33% attended regularly, 
22% attended frequently, 15% seldom went, and 9% never attended 
while in the university. 

In a survey of students at 7/hitman College, 

1 - Un d e r g r adu a t e s . p. 304. 


Walla Walla, Washington, it was found that 73% of the students 

were church members. A recent census from Welle sley College 


indicated that 76% of its student body belonged to churches. 
l \7% of Whitman's students attended church regularly, 32% atten- 
ded irregularly, 13% seldom went, and 6% never attended. 

The Unde rgradu at e study showed about the same per- 
centages attending church regularly, kh% for the men and 55/£ 

for the women. These percentages are much higher than those 
from Ann Arbor, Lichigan, where an investigation of 562 student 
showed that 19% of the men and 37/^ of the women attended church 
regularly, 65% of the men and 60% of the women attended occa- 
sionally, and 16$ of the men and h%> of the women never atten- 


Reasons for church attendance: 

The students at Walla Walla, gave "Worship, 

inspiration and development of spiritual life" as the main 

reason for church attendance, with "influence of parents" 

and "music" other reasons. That the influence of parents 

has more effect than the influence of the minister is the 

opinion of this student group. A comparison of the church 

attendance of college students with that of the townspeople 

indicated that the students attended much more regularly than 


the townspeople. 

The reasons given by Evanston students for 
not attending church were because they were "too busy", "the 
church was not helpful % and "they were not interested in reli- 

1 - Ells, "'alter C. , Why Do College Students Go To Church? 

Re ligio us Educat ion, August 1926, o. 342 

2 - Undergradu ates . p. 304 

3 - Ibid 

4 - Religious Education, p. 343 



Effect of Univers ity life on reli g iou s attitu des. 

We have been considering the statement of students 
about certain phases Of their religious beliefs. The next 
question to be considered is what influences have had most ef- 
fect in changing their opinions, and what the total results of 
these influences through four years of college have been. 

Influences effecting beliefs: 

13$ of the Evanston students said that 
the courses they had taken had injured them religiously , while 
35$ said they had helped. It was found there that the campus 
organizations have considerably less effect on the religious 
point of view than the courses taken. 

In the Undergraduate study, scientific courses as 

now taught headed the list of obstacles to religious belief, 

{21%) but science and religion were considered complimentary 

rather than antagonistic by 78$ of the men and 85$ of the 

women. Belief in evolution was expressed by large majorities 


of both men and women. 

The Reed College students found great help from 
their courses in History and Literature, and the science 
courses helped them to replace their old orthodox ideas with 
the newer viewpoints of scholars. The personal contacts 
with the professors have great influence, usually for the 

In answer to the question "Is the change in your 
religious attitude a loss or gain in your life as a whole?" 

1 - Un dergraduate s . p. 247 


the general view expressed was that the change in "belief 

about immortality detracted from the richness and value of 

life, while they considered learning the truth about a thing 

always a gain. In contrast to the general "belief that higher 

education destroys beliefs, these students at Reed believed 

that college contributed materially to the construction of a 


deeper and truer point of view. 

There are several discoveries of major importance 
that may come during college years, and these years should be 
a time of transition, of growth in religion rather than of col- 
lapse as they sometimes appear to be. ' For many, it is the 
first time that they come to realize that religion has been of 
concern to the greatest minds of all times, for no one can think 
deeply without thinking religiously. 

They come into a new realization of the real mean- 
ing of religion, and their thought of religion broadens. For 
many, it is during this time that they realize their own need 
of religion, through disappointments or inadequacies, but it 
is probably better if religion is thought of as the most ade>- 
quate answer and explanation of the universe. 

"Loss of faith" is spoken of as a common experience 

of college stud nts, and especially of those majoring in science. 

This is not alone the experience of college students, but of all 

young people, as Dr. Brown, Chancellor of Hew York University, 

points out. He says: 

"The later teens and early twenties are 
a time of tension and of readjustment in the religious 
habitue', e of young men everywhere, whether they be col- 
legians or clerks or sailors before the mast. 2 

1 - Religious Education. February 1928, p. 16 0. 

2 - Gavit, John P., College , p. 257. 


If the student has brought with him to co liege as 
his religion only a set of memorized creeds or a collection 
of sentimental associations which -are not his own, hut have 
"been accepted without questioning, it is entirely possible that 
under the stimulus of good teaching and honest questioning;, 
these half-thought out beliefs will be lost,* A real religion 
usually gain strength and permanence during the college years, 
and the number who 'lose their religion' during college days 
is greatly overbalanced by the number who experience a, deep- 
ening religious consciousness. 





The quest ion"why" inevitably follows such varying 
statements of belief as we have outlined in the preceding chap- 
ter. J What accounts for this 'revolt of youth'?", Jwhy are 
their beliefs so different from those of the preceding genera- 
tions?" , are questions we shall attempt to answer in this chap- 

To anyone who has been watching the religious ten- 
dencies for many years past, the present situation among young 
people, either in or out of college, is not surprising. The 
war had little to do with the problem, except as it disclosed 
the results of conditions which have been making in America 
for several generations. To understand what is ha.pening now, 
we must go back to the middle of the nineteenth century when 
the industrial revolution began to break up the old social and 
industrial system ana relationships, and to the time when the 
scientific discoveries began to shake confidence in the long- 
accepted Bible truths. 

Home Conditions: 

The immediate cause of the change in religious 
beliefs is to be found in the home training of the present younge 
generation. Whether parents consciously teach religion or not, 
the child is influenced by his home atmosphere, either for good 
or bad, and the home conditions are responsible for many of the 
present attitudes. 


Con ditlons of the nineteent h century* 

During the middle and latter part of the 19th. 
century, there was no problem of 'unbelief 1 in the colleges, 
for they were under the control of theologians whose orthodox 
beliefs were made sure of. The study of science had not yet 
been put in the colleges of liberal arts, and scientific schools 
were looked down upon from the scholastic viewpoint. There 
were a few venturesome young people, however, who had sensed 
the scientific battle, and were beginning to ask questions 
about the infallibility of the scriptures, and the origin of 
the world. The parents of the young people now in college 
grew up in homes where it was customary for all the family to 
go to Sunday School and to Church regularly. The Bible was 
read in the home and regarded as the book of books. "Saying 
of grace", "the family altar" and "family prayers" were estab- 
lished customs. Sunday was observed most carefully as a day 

of rest* "In the twilight and dusk of that general tradition 


grew up the parents of the present Younger Generation." The 
words 'twilight' and 'dusk' are used because already there 
were some who were doubting and only going through the forms. 
The great masses of people in the cities, especially, were 
beginning to give up the traditions, even then. 
So cia l life: 

The social life of this period was 
centered in the church, especially in the rural communities 
and towns. Families were widely separated and communication 
was difficult. The whole family participated in church socials 
and entertainments, and this was the only social life outside 
of t he home. 

1 - G-avit, John Palmer, College, p. 240. 



With the members of the family dependent upon them- 
selves and each other for their pleasures, there was more 
working together, and a sense of family loyalty developed. 

Economic s ituation : 

During the latter part of the 19th century, 
there was great shifting of the population from the country 
to the cities, with all the attendant adjustments. There 
were many inventions perfected that brought people together, 
such as the telegraph in 1844, the cable in 1866, the tele- 
phone in 1876, the linotype in 1884, and a successful auto- 
mobile in 1890. In 1896, there were four automobiles manu- 
factured, but bv 1900, there were 4,800, the g rowth being 


rapid from' then on. 

With the growing materialism, there came 
increasing demands for more social life and different kinds 
of amusements. The craze for entertainment was in part due, 
no doubt, to the reaction from the growing intensity and com- 
petition in business and the seeking of wealth for its own 
sake and as a means of more entertainment. 
Living conditions. 

In the shift of the population from the coun- 
try to the cities, it was inevitable that the separate home 
for each family v/ould disappear. In its place, families were 
crowded together in flats and hotels. In these surroundings, 
the house work was greatly simplified and no longer was th©re 
sharing of responsibility in the home. Loss of interest in 

1 - Rugg, Harold, M echan ical Conquest of A meri ca, Teachers 
College, New York, 1922, p. 134. 


the home followed lack of responsibility , and soon all 
pleasure and enjoyment were sought for outside of the home. 
City life tended to make people sophisticated and it des- 
troyed the sense of responsibility to public opinion and 

Present c onditions contrasted . 
Llodern Social life. 

What are some of the modern substitutes 
for the old home and church entertainments which the younger 
generation has grown up with? 

The most vride-spread , if not the most 
powerful influence is the moving picture. Many of the films 
are highly exciting and tend to stimulate the adolescent's 
sex impulses. There are many pictures of unnatural relations 
a,nd extravagances in human action. 

The best, sellers among the novels are 
those which deal with the sex question. 1'agazines that have 
'snappy 1 stories are sold to large numbers. The impressions 
gained from wading are generally lasting and often determine 
future actions, unconsciously, it may seem* 

The American press is a great enemy of 
education, in one way, because it gives a distorted perspec- 
tive of current life, giving more space to murders and crime 


than to constructive achievements. 

Many otherforms of social life are enjoyed, 
such as dancing, card playing, and sports of all kinds. There 
is very little socis.1 life centered in the home, however, and 

1 - Osborn, Kenry F. , The Championship of Youth, S chool and 
Society^ July 28, 1928, p". 90 


the benefits of the family working out their pleasures 

together are Gone. 

Parental a uthorit y: 

With all these economic and social changes, 

came the lessening of parental responsibility and authority. 

Many parents of today have either not tried or have not known 

how to make much more than a ho^el for their children. Some 

have given over the entire care of their children to nurses 

and servants, so they may be free to follow their own desires. 

"The failure of American parents to take 
a serious attitude in their children's mental growth, 
tends to give the young a wrong attitude toward the 
vital things of life." 1 

Their devotion to the material things of life, to 
that which is immediately 'practical' has led them to forget 
the truly vital aspects. The children, during their impres- 
sionistic years, have had no religious or moral training in 
the home, and accept their parent's indifferent attitude 
toward religion. True, many parents are still vitally in- 
terested in the church, but many more have lost their former 
devotion to religious forms and the children sense their doubts 

It is not the Younger G-enerat ion, about whose morality 

and religion we are so concerned, then, who have abandoned what 

was implied in the institution of the 'family altar', the uphold 

ing of ideals, and the belief in the infallibility of the Bible. 

"They are the legitimate product of the 
homes and social environment out of which they came. 
The cynically materialistic, unbelieving generation 
is not that of these youngsters, but of the middle-aged 
men and women of this day, who now complain of the fruits 

1 - Angell, Robert Cooley, The Campus , p. 13. 

of their own ignorance, selfishness and 
negligence. It is they who have eaten the 
sour grapes, and they have no right to he 
surprised if their children's teeth are set 
on edge 1 11 1 

11 Effe ct, of Warj. 

With the background we have given of the social 
and economic conditions, we may now consider the effect of 
the vrar upon the present college students, 
T im e of excite ment: 

For five years, we were accustomed to 
read of the daily destruc tion of thousands of lives, of 
great battles and submarine attacks. Life was in an up- 
roar, and it is no wonder that the former interesting things 
seemed tame and quiet in comparison. The orderly habits and 
customs were forgotten, and the proprieties and restrictions 
imposed by society were swept away. Where there were no stan 
dards from home training, or inner self-control, people went 
to pieces morally and mentally. 

Influ ence on pre sen t college students at the t ime . 

The present college students were from 
seven to seventeen years of age during the war, at a most 
impressionable period of their life. During the time when 
normally ideas, points of view and standards are being im- 
pressed upon children, they lived in this unnatural and ex- 
citing atmosphere, with nothing in their experience to tell 
them that it was not natural. The parents could not enforce 
old proprieties for they themselves were not observing them, 

1 - Gavitt, John Palmer, College , p. 242. 


When the war was over, parental authority could 
not he exercised, for the children had always had their 
liberty, and did not know the meaning of authority. They 
are now in the world the older generation made for them, 
and the thoughtful young people are trying to find their 
place in it. The chaos following the war has set them 
thinking a hit, perhaps, and for some, it is carrying them 
from the material hack to the realms of the spiritual, 

III Q-r owth of the Scientific Spirit . 

Another great influence in changing the religious 
beliefs of students has been the growth of the scientific or 
critical attitude. 

Mean ing of scientific att i tude. 

The scientific method has been well 

described by Karl Pearson as follows: 

"The classification of facts, the recog- 
nition of their sequence and relative significance 
is the function of science, and the habit of form- 
ing a judgment upon these facts, unbiased by per- 
sonal feeling, is characteristic of what may be 
termed the scientific frame of mind. 11 1 

This statement is made from the standpoint of the 

natural sciences, and we see what far-reaching effects this 

attitude would have when applied to religion. The doctrine 

of evolution began to be questioned, and strengthened by ar- 

chaelogical evidence, the literal infallibility of the Bible 

was undermined. 

1 - Pearson, Karl, Grammar of Sc ience. Adam and Charles 
Black, London, 1900, p. 6. 


Opposition of Church. 

There was the feeling, justified in 
many cases, that the church was opposed to science, and 
was trying to stop its progress. This made an antagonistic 
feeling toward the church, and students were ;:ore inclined 
to follow the investigations of science than to blindly ac- 
cept what the church asked them to believe. 

"Science has not superseded religion among 
college undergraduates, but our modern students 
have simply shifted their credulity." 1 

Effect of student ' s s tud:; of science: 

Some students who specialize in science 
seem to lose their religious beliefs for a time. They lose 
their emotional spontaneity, as they begin to experiment and 
analyze facts, and then they are troubled with theological 
difficulties. They find it increasingly hard to pray, and 
usually stop, until they go far enough in their scientific 
studies to realize the meaning of true prayer. Science may 
close certain realms of religious experience to the student, 
but it opens new fields to him that are unkown to one not 
scientifically trained. 

The professor of sciences can so teach his 
courses that they will strengthen the beliefs of his student 
and the real science teachers show that there is no conflict 
between science and religion, as the pseudo-scientists would 
have their students believe, throwing religion into the dis- 
card . 

1 - Sperry, Willard, The Religion of College Men, Outlook, 
March 21, 1928, p. 455. 



"Neither materialistic science nor other- 
worldly religion appeals to these young people, nor 
any purely intellectual philosophy or economics.... 
No religion, no philosophy will arouse them which 
denies, or fails to take account of all the facts 
of existence that they are learning and which does 
not somehow unify into one harmonious significance 
all truth—physical, social, psychological, spir--, 
itual — and correlate it with life, Life Eternal." 

IV C ha np; i np; Co n cept ion s of Educatio n: 

Another important influence in shaping the 
beliefs and attitudes of college students has been the 
whole educational system in which they have received their 
instruction. We need only to trace the history of our 
leading colleges to see how far their present purpose 
varies from the one for which they were founded. 

no s.e for wj^ich colleges founded : 

Practically all of the endowed colleges 
were founded under religious auspices. Most of the older- 
ones, at least, were established to provide training so that 
there might be an educated ministry. In a publication known 
as "New England's First Fruits" of 1643, we read the follow- 

"One of the next things we longed for and 
looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate 
it to posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate 
ministry to the churches when our present Ministers 
shall lie in the dust. And.... it pleased God to stir 
up the heart of one Mr, Harvard to give the one half 
of his estate toward the erecting of a college." 2 

As a result of this gift, Harvard College was 

founded in I636 for the stated purpose of giving the church 

1 - Gavit, John Palmer, College , p. 264. 

2 - Cubberley, Readings in the His tory of Ed ucation , Houghton 

Llifflin Company, H.Y. , 1920, p. 290. 


1 an educated ministry 1 . In 1701, Yale was founded for 
a similar purpose. Princeton, Columbia (Kings), Pennsyl- 
vania, Brown, Rutgers (Queens), and Dartmouth were all 
founded during the Colonial Period with a distinctly re- 
ligious purpose. 

Laws r egulating colleges : 

The curriculum of the elementary schools was 
of a religious nature, based on Bible texts, creeds, the 
Ten Commandments and catechisms. In nine of the original 
thirteen colonies, laws were passed recognizing ecclesias- 
tical control in education. These laws show the decidedly 
religious aim in education. The practice of appropriating 
state funds to the colleges uncSer church control grew rapidly, 
but as the number of sects increased and greater demands 
were made on the public funds, dissatisfaction arose which 

finally resulted in the separation of the schools from sec- 

tarian control. 

"From 1850 on, the movement toviard the 
separation of state and sectarian education gained 
rapidly. The legislative and constitutional pro- 
visions of this period prohibited sectarian instruc- 
tion, the establishment of religious tests, and the 
appropriation of public funds to schools under eccle- 
siastical control or not under the absolute control 
of the state. .. .Between 1819 and 1880, twenty-six 
states had established state universities." * 

What should be taught in colleges founded 
under the Morrill Act of 1862 was well defined: 

1 - Searles, Herbert L. . The Stud y of Religion in Stat e Univer- 

siti es , published by the University, Iowa Citv, Iowa.p.30 f 

2 - Ibid, p. 12. 



H the endowment, support and maintenance 
of at least one college where the leading object 
shall he, without excluding other scientific and 
classical studies, and including military tactics, 
to teach such branches oflearning as are related to 
agriculture and the mechanic arts... in order to pro- 
mote the liberal and practical education of the indus- 
trial classes in the several pursuits and professions 
in life." 1 

As a result of the provisions of the Morrill Act, 
the universities trained leaders for mechanical, agricul- 
tural and commercial pursuits, with little attention to 
the philosophical and cultural subjects. 

The increasing commercialism of the late nine- 
teenth and early twentieth centuries was reflected in the 
educational system in the growth of vocational colleges, 
such as engineering, medicine, law and business administra- 
tion. Many new subjects were added to the college curricu- 
lum, and the student was given more freedom in choosing his 
course of study. 

Changes in S tudent B ody: 

In crease in col le ge en rollment ; 

Between the years I89O and 1900, the 
college enrollment doubled, and it had doubled again by 

1917. In 1924, there were a half -million students in Amer- 


ican colleges and universities. 

Type of student: 

The majority of these thousands of 
students come from homes where there is little cultural 
background. Their parents have little intellectual interest 

1 - United States Bureau of Education Bulletin 47, 1915. 

2 - Duffus, R.L., The Crisis in the AmericanColleges , New llo 

Times I.lagazine , January 8, 1928, 



and are satisfied with the status £uo. They desire no 
change in the social order, so it is no wonder that the 
majority of the present student Generation do not recog- 
nize the need for constructive thinking. There is little 
preparation of soul and mind before college, and the stu- 
dent gets his real life from activities, because the con- 
tacts are more like those he is accustomedto , and he falls 
in the line of least resistance. 

Percy Marks writes in no uncertain terms 

concerning the mind of the present college student. He 


"The average American undergraduate has 
at best only a mediocre mind, a mind that requires 
an educational standard woefully low and one that 
inevitably forces on the colleges most of the faults 
with which they are admittedly encrusted." 1 

Act ivit ie s : 

The university, with its numerous activ- 
ities, occupies the students whole mind while he is in schoo 
and it is the one thing that really matters. In the tremen- 
dous stress of modern college life, the average student is 
too busy with work and play to think much about religion. 
Because of the desire to be in the activities of college lif 
with the consequent lack of time for other things, the typic 

student today is indifferent rather than atheistic or agnos- 


1 - Marks, Percy, Which Way Parnassus, Harcourt Brace and 

Company, New York, 1926, p. 14. 

2 - The Religion of College Men, Editorial, Outlook, Larch 2 

1928, p. 455. 


Pun ctio n of College Training; 

The shifting of the emphasis in colleges 
from cultural to vocational training, and the change 
in the type of students has raised the question as to 
just what the function of the university is today. 

If university education is for the purpose 
of enabling its students to earn a "better living, to he 
at home in their age, it is doing it well* But if its 
purpose is to develop the critical faculties of its stu- 
dents, to help them reach independent judgments and seek 
truth for its own sake, it is failing miserably. 

In "The Religion of the Undergraduates", 

Mr. Cyril Karris says: 

"it is the function of universities 
in the modern state to give our rudderless world 
a creative intelligence, informed and alert and 
indignant, selfless and unafraid. It is the 
function of the Gospel to fire that intelligence 
with a passion for righteousness and a divine 
discontent . " 1 

J udgment of students: 

It is probably true that by far the 

greater number of students in colleges accept conditions 

as they are, but there are a few in each college who are 

questioning the present educational system. A Student 

Council held at Harvard in 1926 protested strongly against 

the present tendencies. They said that a student could 

learn everything in college he wanted to know except the 

1 - Harris, Cyril, T he Rel igio n of the Unde rgraduate, 

Charles Seribner T s Sons, New Yor, 1925, p. 66. 


greatest thine, the art of living. They thought that know- 
ledge should be restored to its primary philosophic function, 

so students could he aided in building up a constructive phil- 


osophy of their own. 

Why Educ a tion Dogs not Prepare Students for t he 
Vocation of Living: 

There are several reaons why college education 
at the present time does not prepare students for the voca- 
tion of living. 

(1) The main one and the oldest is the still 
prevalent view that teaching is something done by the 
teacher to the student. This idea is beginning to be crit- 
icized, but thus far not much progress has been made in 
changing the old teaching methods. Students are not trained 
to make judgments while in school, and when they are out of 
college, they either conform to existing conditions or drift 
from one thing to another. Teaching should be understood to 
be first of all the stimulation of students to a critical 
examination of the va.lues of our society. 

(2) Another reason why college graduates are 

not trained in the art of living is due to the manner in which 

the necessity for specialization in "eaching has been handled. 

Each department teaches its subject only, without reference 

to its contribution to life, its relation to all the other 

know ledge in the world, or to the business of living. . The 

1 -Aswell7 Edward, The Students Prescribe, go mm , November 
1926, p. 716. 



- 37 - 

lack of intellectual interest in college is easily- 
accounted for by the fact that '.knowledge is not acquired 
and used for the improvement of living men and women. 

"There will "be no solution for the 
problem now before us until functions to be 
performed, values for human living, criticism 
of purposes and of conduct in occupations, 
reach the student consciousness in immediate 
unity with his acquaintance With fact, process, 
and skill." 1 

(3) A third reason why colleges do not train their 
students to be critical-minded, is because of their finan- 
cial dependence on the good will of the men of wealth. The 
Board of Trustees of a college often chooses their president, 
not on his scholastic attainments and educational policy, but 
on his ability to raise money for the college. This is no 
less true in the selection of a University president who 
must get the necessary funds from the State Legislature 
rather than from individual donors. 

The president has to decide for what purposes the 
money raised shall be expended, and naturally the system of 
administration tends toward the level of those who supply 
the monej*. The spirit of our youth is ailing " parti;/ be- 
cause the spirit of our ailing industrial order Has infected 


our colleges and universities." 

There are a few experiments being made in the field 
of education today in an effort to overcome some of these defec 

1 - Coe, G-eorge A., Wha t Ails Our Yo uth ? Charles Scribner's 

Sons, New York, 1926, o. 25. 

2 - Ibid. o. 31 


The Experimental College at the University of Wisconsin 
under the direction of Dr. Meiklejohn may be mentioned as 
the outstanding venture. There are no 'courses' as such, 
but all the work for the year centers around one main sub- 
ject, and the student is left to himself to read, investi- 
gate and discuss all possible phases of this question as it 
relates to life today. The discussion groups are sy.all, 
and the teachers have frequent conferences with each student. 
Students are helped in their investigations, and are encour- 
aged to do independent thinking. 

S tud" of Religio n in Co lieges : 

Liberal education is fundamentally a 
study of contemporary life and all problems growing out of 
that life. There is a grov/ing opinion that religion should 
be studied in college, for it is not a segment of life, but 
a vital part of life, and has much to contribute to the pro- 
blems of every-day living. 

At a conference of two hundred college presi- 
dents, deans and professors held at Princeton early in 1928 
to consider the subject of "Religion Among College Men", it 
was agreed that courses in religion should be incorporated 
in the college curriculum in a more interesting and vital 

way, and that it should be taught on a parity with philos- 


ophy, science, history and literature. 

1 - Religion Among College Lien, He w York Times Magazine , 
February 26, 1928. 


While religion in colleges has had a dii'ficult 
time for several generations, the reaction has now set 
in, in line with the opinion expressed in the Princeton 
conference, and more colleges and universities are offer- 
ing courses in religion and Biblical literature. If a 
school is to give its students access to the whole field 
of human knowledge and culture, it must include the study 
of religion in its curriculum. 


chapter iv 

tre::ds of student t hinking reg ardi ng- 
religious provisions and agencies. 




Chapter IV 


We have considered the attitudes of college students 
toward religious beliefs, and have attempted to explain the 
forces in society which have been at work in influencing their 
beliefs. In the present chapter, we shall consider the general 
trend of their thought toward existing religious organizations 
and the provisions made by these agencies for religious devel- 

I Provisions made by. the schools : 

The colleges have made provisions for the reli- 
gious development of their students in two main ways--through 
the agency of chapel services, and through their courses in 
religious education. Let us consider first the attitude of 
students today toward the chapel service. 

A. Chapel Serv ic es : 

As was pointed out in the last chapter, 
the majority of our colleges were founded to give definite 
religious training, and in the early years of the colleges, 
chapel was considered an absolutely essential part of the 
program, and attendance was compulsory. 

As the years passed, however, and the students 
began to exert more freedom in their choice of courses and 
in their own government, it was inevitable that they should 
rebel against compulsory chapel. The services held in many 



chapels were dull and drab, and the students barricaded 
themselves behind notebooks and newspapers. These dry 
and uninteresting services conducted in the name of 
religion, gave many students a false conception of Chris- 

"as a scheme of thought which not only 
denies the facts of biblical criticism and of 
science, but proclaims a way of life which is 
ascetic and goody-goody. The outcome was a mis- 
conception of religion and a distaste for supposed 
religion. 1,1 

Compulsory attendance at chapel was found by 
the inquirers in the Undergraduate study to be one of the 
livest religious issues discussed. Required attendance 
varied widely, in the different institutions visited, but 
the tendency to make chapel attendance voluntary is rapidly 

At Harvard, for the last fort3 r years, they 

have had a voluntary and daily and Sunday chapel. There 

is an average attendance of one hundred ten for the daily 

service. Yale" had voluntary 'chapel services for the first 

time in two hundred twenty-five years in the fall of 1926. 

The average daily attendance there is one hundred seventy- 


It is very doubtful if compulsory chapel has 
religious value. Even where there are voluntary chapel 
services, it has ceased to be a religious service. The 

1 - Tweedy7~Henry K., Problem of the College Chapel, Religious 

Educ ation , February 27, 1929, p. 136. 

2 - Ibid, p. 141, 



chief reasons given for chapel exercises are not its 
religious values, but tradition, social unification 
of the student body and administrative convenience. 

Such a statement as the following sums up the 
general student opinion about the value of chapel ser- 

"Chapel is seventy-five per cent meaning- 
less and as religion it doesn't go. The ma- 
jority of undergraduates would probably vote 
against it. There is, however, a powerful co- 
hesion in the college, largely due to chapel." 

A faculty member in a large university said: 

"Chapel is a unifying factor. The mere 
bringing together of so many men does some- 
thing that you couldn't get otherwise. Often, 
however, the more religious one is the more he 
dislikes chapel. It is a formality and a rather 
dry one at that." 3 

Students will crowd the chapels to listen to 
those men and women who understand and sympathize with 
them and share their spirit. Those who know hew to trans 
late the eternal truths of religion into the language of 
today, whether they be young or old, are sought out, and 
besieged with questions as to the meaning of life, and 
how it may be lived to the fullest. 

B. C ourses in Religious Education . 

Any test given to college students on 
biblical information, or any discussion with them of the 
fundamentals of religion discloses their great Ignorance 

1 - U ndergra d uates , p. 253 

2 - Ibid, p. 257 

3 - Ibid, p. 256 



the Bible, either as literature or as a guide for 
right living. They jonow nothing of the history of 
religion, nor of its present meaning. There is con- 
fusion in their minds, showing a lack of fundamental 
education on religious and ethical issues. Students 
and faculty alike are realizing that the aims of re- 
ligion and education are similar, and that the study 
of religion cannot be omitted from a college curricu- 
lum without seriously handicapping the student and 
-ociety. If a college exists to give its students a 
view of the whole field of human knowledge and culture, 
the study of religion must he included in its curriculum. 

C ourses in religion _in Denominational Schools : 
In the schools established s.nd main- 
tained by denominations, courses in the Bible are required, 
and full credit is given. The c riticisms of these courses 
would vary, depending upon the school, the teacher, and 
the student. From the opinions expressed in the Under- 
graduate study, however, the general impression is that 
the Bible courses are not taught by teachers who are as 
well trained as teachers of other subjects, and the courses 
are considered 'pipe courses' in too many schools. This 
has a tendency to give the students the impression that 
the study of reli ion is not as important as that of 
other subjects. 




Pew, if any, denominational colleges have 
taken religious education to "be their primary function. 
They have thought their task to be that of giving a 
general education under conditions favorable to the 
religious life, or of keeping students religiously 
steady while they were getting a general education. 
Education and Religion have been &parated, kept side 
by side, but not put together as Religious Education, 

There are several reasons for this. The 
financial side of the matter has had an influence. The 
growth of sta,te schools has effected the policies of the 
denominational college, for they are too often willing to 
follow the leads of the state schools. More influential 
tha,n either of these rea.sons is the fact that the admin- 
istrators of denominat iona.1 colleges aet on the assumption 
that our religion is not in the marking, but was finished 
thousands of years ago; that religion is a matter not re- 
quiring much religious intelligence, a,nd because of this, 
the main religious duty of the college is to offer to stu- 
dents incentives for being religious in the already con- 

vent iona.1 ways. 

Cours es in Religion in State Schools ; 

There is a long history back of the 
present tendency to offer varied courses in religion in 
sta.te supported schools. 

1 - Coe7~George A., What Ails Our ', o uth? Charles Scribner 1 
Sons, 1926, p. 60. 


History of c ourse s in Stat e Schoo ls: 

In the previous chapter, we "briefly sketched 
the trend of education, and saw that because of denomination 
alism, it was necessary to exclude courses in religion from 
state schools. 

The leading educators recognized the value 
of the study of religion, and with the notable growth in 
church toleration, some courses were introduced. Harvard 
was the first to introduce the study of the comparative 
history of religions, and by 1892, courses in the philos- 
ophy and history of religion were given at Harvard, Cornell, 


Smith College, DePauw and Indiana University. 

The rapid growth of the state universities 
during the period from 1890 to 1900, and the fact that about 
eighty per cent of the students were members of various 
churches, led the churches to realize the value of estab- 
lishing courses in religion in the universities. 

This period of cooperation between the 

churches and state universities began in 1893, when the 

Disciples of Christ established the Ann Arbor Bible Chair 


at the State University of Michigan. From this time on, 
different denominations provided funds for the establish- 
ment of Bible Chairs in the larger universities. In many 
cases, the Church Boards of Education employ a University 
Pastor who devotes part of his time to teaching Bible 

1 - Searles , Herbert Leon, The Stud y of Religion in S tate 

U niversi ties , p. 3^7 

2 - Ibid, p. 35 



courses, depending on the institution as to whether or 
not credit is gives* 

Course s in Religion now given in Universities: 
Dr. Herbert L. Searles of the Institute 
of Character Research, University of Iowa, who made a study 
of religion in state universities during 1924 and 1925, has 
given us valuable information on this question. 

He studied the forty-two tax supported 
universities in the United States. Of this number, nine 
give no courses in religion, nor do their students take 
accredited courses in religion in outside institutions. 
Thirty of the remaining thirty-three, offer courses in 
religion as a part of the university curriculum, supple- 
mented by courses offered in the Schools of Religion, as 
at the Universities of Ohio and Illinois. 

The University of Illinois offers the 
largest number of courses. It has fifteen courses, given 
by three denominational foundations. Biblical literature 
is the course which has been most popular, and w as given 
in twenty-eight institutions in 1923-24. Philosophy of 
Religion was offered by ten different universities. The 
total enrollment in this year was 3,248, which does not 
take account of duplications. Five of the institutions 
studied signified their intention of developing new courses, 
one of dropping some of their courses, and the others were 
planning to maintain their present courses. 


In general, the teachers have received great 
encouragement from students, parents, administrators, 
legislatures and religious organizations. The laws re- 
|) garding sectarian teaching in state universities are 

not construed to prohibit the teaching of religion. 
The majority of college presidents favor the develop- 
ment of religious courses as part of another department 
of the University.. The plan of an affiliated school 
of religion supported by denominat ions cooperating, the 
courses to be accredited by the university, 3s offered 

by others as a solution of the best method of organiza- 


Value of courses in Religious E ducation ; 

Religion is coming to be recognized 
as a philosophy of life, concerned wiflr.tiae great human 
problems, a philosophy v/hich gives meaning to all our 
activities. Where religious courses are taught by good 
teachers, there is rarely adverse criticism. The Under- 
graduate study revealed that the interest in good Bible 
courses was increasing, and the majority of students who 
take the courses find them most helpful, 

In reply to the question "Of what value 
I are technical courses in religious education to the under- 

graduate?" the following v alues were suggested: There is 
a cultural value for they give one a broader view of life. 
For the individual there is a great personal and spiritual 

1~ - 5 e 1 1 . ~~7.~7b~ rt L. , 3^_^_ j__ " ~ ± '_s 

versities , p. 46 f • 


value for many realize for the first time the real 
. .eaning and power of religion. The needs end oppor- 
tunities of the church are revealed, opening new ave- 
nues of service, and students are prepared for avoca- 


tional and vocational service, 

II Provisions made "by t he church; 

We have discussed the matter of church 
attendance in chapter two, and in this section shell 
consider the student criticisms of the church. 

A. Student C rit icisir.s of V-e church; 

One of the criticisms of the church 
frequently made "by the young people is that it is out- 
of-date, behind the times. They are dissatisfied with 
the church "because of its attitude to the new knowledge 
of our day, its distrust of the critical, questioning, 
open-minded spirit. The chasm between the younger gen- 
eration and the church may be bridged to a degree by a 
well-educated ministry, a ministry who understands youth. 

Students are concerned with the present- 
day social problems, o,nd criticize the church because it 
has seemingly not been willing to face these problems, and 
help in solving them. 

The conventional method in the church of 

'preaching at 1 the congregation is not in accord with the 

new spirit in education of working out problems together. 

1 - Heisey , Paul H. , Religious Education Courses in the 
College Curriculum, Religious -Education , 
January 1927, p. 44. 


Along with the sermon, the church must provide an 
opportunity^ for the young people to meet in congenial 
groups for study, recreation and service. Youth needs 
the help and encouragement of an older g roup v/ho "believe 
in its sincerity, pot? er s,nd capacity, and with the co- 
operation of the older generation with the younger, many 
problems could he solved. 

The student group accuses the church of 
a certain lack of reality between its creeds and state- 
ments of profession and their practice, as in their bitter 
controversies and a rguments. The young people today 'are 
interested in a religion that works, and demand of the 
church, men and women who live every day the religion 
they profess on Sunday, 

Serious students are looking for something 
in life that will help them solve their problems. The 
church, for many, has seemed to offer nothing but restraint 
.hey are impatient with the church because it gives them 
no intelligible answer to their question "What is religion 
for?" The church has too long had. the idea that young 
people must be attracted to it. When it realizes the 
earnestness with which they are seeking a living religion 
and offers them something challenging to do, it will have 
no occasion to complain of the indifference of the younger 

A survey of twelve hundred students at 


the University of Chicago regarding their attitude 
toward the church, showed that they appreciated the 

church as an institution in society. Llany of the 
students had not come into acquaintance with modern, 
progressive churches, and their answers were colored 
by their unfortunate experiences with conservative 
and intolerant churches. The number cf hearty endorse- 
ments of the church was surprisingly large, and a. long- 
ing for greater assurance as to the realities of religion 
was implied in many of the responses. 

Criticisms as have been mentioned previously — 
failure of the church to live up to ideals, the church too 

far behind the times, too narrow-minded, hypocritical, 


superficial — were also given in this survey. 

B. Conferences Sponsored by C hurch; 

Progressive church leaders are recognizing 
the growing desire of their young people for opportunities 
to discuss questions with each other and with experienced 
leaders. Some of the denominations are making state and 
national conferences possible, and this has come as a di- 
rect result of the demands of the young people. 

Den ominational Conf erences; 

The National Conference of liethodist 
Students held at Louisville, Kentucky, April, 1924, stands 

1 - Chave, E.J., Student Attitudes Toward the Church, 
Ponograph, 1929. 

as a significant student denominational conference. It 

"brought together more than five hundred students from 

one hundred twenty-two co lieges and universities. The 

delegates represented thousands of Lietoodist students 

from the Methodist Episcopal Church and from the Methodist 

Episcopal Church, South. The meeting of the students of 

the two churches as one body, with the unity of spirit 

and purpose manifested, was a challenge to "both churches 

to face their common problems as one united church. 

The subjects of the conference were the 

Church, Industry, Race, War and Public Opinion, and one 

of the major que sts was to find how students might use 

the agencies of the church to establish the Kingdom of 

God. There was evidenced an intense desire to learn and 

dothe will of Sod, a deep and eager interest in world 

problems, devotion to church and country, and a fine 


spirit of toleration. 

Representative of the national conferences 
in other denominations may be mentioned the one held by 
the young people of the Disciples of Christ churches in 
Columbus, Ohio, in 1928. The purpose of the youth con- 
vention was stated thus: 

" lve such opportunity for 
inspiration, information, vision and fellow- 
ship as would introduce a large group of the 
youth of our brotherhood to the major and far- 
reaching problems of the Kingdom of God, chal- 
lenging them to such thought and action as 

1 - Through the Eyes of Youth, The Abingdon Press, New York, 
1924, Foreword. 


would help bring these problems to successful 
issue," 1 

Pre- convent ion outlines on the theme of the 
conference "Social Adventures with Jesus in Race, Indus- 
trial, National and Church Relations" were sent to all 
of the young peoples groups, so that it was not only the 
five hundred delegates who attended the conference who 
benefited by the outlines prepared. There were adult 
speakers to present the different topics, and an adviser 
in each discussion group, but in the general planning and 
conducting of the conference, the young people had the 

The convention was meant to be an educational 
and spiritual experience in every -day living, and the 
young people were convinced that a more serious attempt 

must be made to apply the standards and .„ethods of Jesus 


to 'all the relations of life. 

C. Churc hes in College Centers: 

Local Church Provisions: 
Many local churches in college commun- 
ities make little or no effort to meet the religious needs 
of college students. The Undergraduate investigation 
showed that while some of them are effective, the exercise 
of more imagination and energy in adapting themselves to 
the needs of students would greatly increase the value of 
t he i r s e rv 1 c e s . 

1 - 5 oc ial Adventure s wit h Jesus , Christian Board of Publica 

tion, St. Louis, 1923 , p. 5« 

2 - Ibid, p. 8 


Special Provisions: 

In a number of the large university 
centers, certain denominational foundations have es- 
tablished special workers for the students, called Uni- 
versity Pastors. Some are closely related to local 
churches, workJ&fg as assistant pastors, while others 
work independently of the local church, but in coop- 
eration with it. The chief points of emphasis in the 
work of university pastors are personal conferences 
with the students, especially of their own denomina- 
tion, encouraging social life and activities under re- 
ligious auspices, and providing voluntary classes and 
discussion groups. These denominational foundations 

were found to be best developed at Cornell, Michigan, 


Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin* 

An evaluation of the work of the Student 
Pastors is difficult, for the workers vary so in their 
method of approach and emphasis. There was favorable 
and unfavorable criticism found in the Undergraduate stud 
but the general opinion was that the university pastors 
constantly studied student problems and were able to be 
of real help to students because of their intimate know- 
ledge of conditions. All of the resources of modern sci- 
ence, physiology, psychology and sociology are made avail 
able for the student in the reverent spirit of religion 
by the personal workers. This is most valuable for it 

1 - Undergr a duates , p. 268. 


shows the student that progressive church workers are 
using all available knowledge in trying to deepen his 
spiritual life, 

III Pr ovision s L ade By Other Agenci es; 

A. Student Chris t ian Asao ciati o ns ; 
The Y.LI.C.A. and Y.W.C.A. are the 
main student religious associations, and "branches of 
these organizations are round in most of the larger- 
colleges. The Y.'Y.C.A. alone has 568 student associa- 
tions • 

The Christian Associations are mem- 
bers of the World's Student Christian Federation, which, 
was organized in 1895, and is now composed of twenty-seven 
national movements, including Student Christian Associations 
in 3113 universities, with an approximate membership of 

300,000 students. This Federation is interdenominational, 


international and interracial. 

When the associations are led entirely 
by students, the criticism may be justly made that in most 
cases there is an inadequate understanding of student pro- 
blems and of the deeper "purpose of the movement. Some of 
the paid secretaries are bound by narrow religious convic- 
tions, but the majority of secretaries are well-trained and 
understand student thought and needs. 

1 - Federation Handbook, Association Press, 1928-29, 
p. 1 f. 



At the national Y.V.'.C.A. convention held in 

San Francisco in April, 1928, the student department 

adopted a new purpose, which indicates the emphasis of 

their work. The new purpose reads: 

"We, the members of the Y.W.C.A. of 

unite in the desire to realize full 

and creative life through a growing knowledge 
of C-od. 

We determine to have a part in making 
this life possible for all people. 

In this task v/e seek to understand Jesus 
and follow Kim. Ml 

Within the last few years, several associations 
have been discontinued, because they had ceased to be of 
religious value on the campus, and a few others have dropped 
the name "Christian" because the student leaders thought 
that kept girls from becoming interested in the work the 
organization was actually doin._ • 

The Undergraduate investigation, however, found 
that the Y.W.Ca . seemed to be achieving most successfully 
the cooperation between youth and experience. Through their 
discussion groups on industry, war and race, their European 
Student Relief work, travelling speakers and conferences, 
they have stimulated interest in national and international 
problems as expressions of the Christian spirit* A number 
of students expressed the opinion that the Y.V.'.C.A. was far 
in advance of the church in their thinking and in their de- 
sire to make religion really vital in the lives of the students. 
1 - The New Purpose Statement, Woman ' s Press , June 192S,p.3Sl. 




In past years, the Y.M.C.A. has "been regarded as 
an organization which had a narrow, stereotyped formula 
for goodness, and students felt that a Y.M. fellow was 
effeminate. This attitude toward the Y.M. is changing, 
it appears, from the Undergraduate study, and the crit- 
icism is now being made that it is not a religious organ- 
ization, but a social service agency, 
Mr. Keppel writes: 

"In a desire to be practical, the 
Y.M. has in a degree lost the sense of the mystery 
of religion and of the possibility of appeal through 
those aesthetic influences which through the ages 
have been perhaps most potent of all." 1 

The first of the following statements sums up 
the favorable opinion toward the Y.M.C.A, , while the second 
gives the unfavorable view. It will be noticed that even 
in the favorable opinion the religious value is not men- 

"The Y.M. has a strong influence 
on the campus. It reaches the social organizations, 
but also the non-grouped and the foreign students, 
and for these last itprovides club life. It fur- 
nishes employment for students. It forwards cam- 
paigns for European and student relief, maintains 
missionaries in the East. It is a very stabilizing 
moral influence." 2 

"The Y.M. is not doing very effec- 
tive work. It has no program other than doing some 
practical service stunts." 3 

1 - Keppel, Frederick P., The U nd e r g r a du at e and His College , 

Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1917, p. 193. 

2 - Undergrad uates , p. 280. 

3 - Ibic, p. 281. 



3. U nited Work C hrist, i an Ass o ci ..tions : 

A new plan has "been worked out in several 

of the larger universities whereby all the religious 

agencies on the campus cooperate, and each worker is 

put in charge of one phase of the united work. 

In the L.assachusetts State College, there 

is a minister as interchurch secretary who represents 

several denominations, and also works with the secretary 


of the Student Christian Associations. 

At the University of Pennsylvania, the organ- 
ization is called a Christian Association, and while affil- 
iated with the National Y,M f CA« is independent in its 


method and program. 

Llost favorable comment was made upon the use- 
fulness of these united work associations in the universi- 
ties where they have been established. It allows no crit- 
icism of 'denominat ionalism' as is sometimes made of highly 
developed work by each church. 

IV S t udent Conferences : 

A. C . . .,f . _ c.ces ;o.::j:e :. ^ 1'. ... . Z ..J" -. . . C 

As an important part of their program, the 
Student Christian Associations have summer conferences in 
each of the regions. It has been the custom in the past 
to hold these conferences at different times. The work of 

1 - U nde r-g radu:. t e s , p. 237. 

2 - Ibid, p. 289. 



these two organizations on the campus, however, is 
being more closely unified, and as a result of this 
working together, a few regions are holding their summer 
conferences together* 

The subjects that have been emphasized at 
these conferences, which are student planned and governed, 
wit'h adult direction, follow the interest of the students, 
and the main topics the last few years have been Race, "'.Tar, 
Industry, Science and Religion, and the Relations of Men and 
Women. These conferences usually last ten days. Outstand- 
ing leaders in each field are present, and in the discussion 
groups following the platform lectures, meet with the stu- 
dents to help them in their thinking. 

As indicative of what the college girls who 
attend these conferences are demanding of the church today, 
we quote from Mrs. Kirkland who attended a Y.V.'.CA. confer- 
ence at Silver Bay last year: 

"A love of G-od greater than love of dogma, 
denomination or dispute; an honesty of intellect 
as absolute as her own; sympathy with herself as 
warm as hers for her elders; a bold, crusading 
leadership against the evils of today; and to 
know Jesus as man before asked to know Him as 
God." 1 

Those who attend these conferences find them 
most stimulating and challenging, but the percentage of stu- 
dents attending is very small*, compared either with the num- 
ber who are members of the organizations or of the whole student 

1 - Kirkland, Winifred, God in the Girl's College, Century, 
December, 1928. 


B . In t erdenominational conferences : 

A discussion of student conferences could 
not fairly be concluded without mentioning the conferences 
sponsored by the Student Volunteer Movement , but not lim- 
ited to their members, and other interdenominational student 
conferences held recently, 

1. Student Volunteer Convention at Indi a napolis , 
I nd i ana. , De c embe r , 1923, 

Probably one of the most significant student 
conferences of this generation was the one held at Indian- 
apolis in December, 1923, At this conference, attended by 
several thousand carefully chosen students from the United 
States and foreign countries, the baffling problems of mis- 
sions today were discussed. The students and leaders here 
frankly expressed their opinions about the failure of our 
country to apply christian principles in solving the pro- 
blems of race, of war and of industry. Harsh criticisms 
were made, and realizing the need of more information, since 
this conference, these problems have been the outstanding 
ones for further study, 

2, National In to rden om i n at io na l Student Confer - 
ence , Evan s ton , I llinoi s , Decemb er, 1925 • 

In December, 1925, 900 students representing 
two hundred colleges and universities met in Evanston, Illinois, 
for a church conference, the first of its kind ever held. 
This was an outgrowth of the Indianapolis conference, with 
the interest centered in the church as the agency through 


which the Christian solution of the problems discussed 
at the previous conference might he found. 

This conference showed that the students were 
more conversant with the criticisms of the church than 
with its constructive achievements. Commissions had "been 
appointed "before the conference to make intensive studies 
of the various aspects of the work of the church, and these 
findings were of surprise to many of the students. 

The conference showed that it was possible to 
discuss the church without being narrowly denominational. 
The following paragraph gives a summary of the benefits of 
the conference: 

"At the conclusion I think it is no ex- 
aggeration to say that the vast majority — even of 
the most crit icai--went away convinced that the 
chur ch, despite its readily recognized short-com- 
ings is actually being used in terms of today's 
practical problems of social and international re- 
lationships and that students have a major obliga- 
tion to see that its effectiveness is increased. "1 

3. nationa l S tudent Conference at Milwaukee; 
Dec e mber , 1926 . 

In 1926, a National Student Conference was 
held at Milwaukee attended by 2500 delegates. The theme 
of the conference was "What 'Sources Has Jesus For Life In 
Our T'orld?" The subjects af a few of the platform addresses 
were: "Can G-od Be Accessible To Us and How?" by Bruce Curry, 

1 - High, Stanley, Editor, " Youth Looks At The C hurch , The 
Abingdon Press, New ork, 1926, p. 9. 



" International Relations and the Religion of Jesus" by 
Kirb- Page, "Changing Conception of God and of Duty" "by 


Robert A. Eillikan, and "The Cross" by Studdert Kennedy. 

It was evident at this conference that the 
serious -minded students are interested in life as they 
are trying to live it in a world such as ours. They are 
primarily interested with problems of their own religious 
life, and have not yet come to think of the problems in 
the social order as personal religious challenges, but 
hold in their minds a definite separation between the 
social and the personal. 

4. Student Volunteer Conference at Detroi t , 
Michigan. 1927 . 

The Quadrennial convention of the Student 
Volunteer Movement , corresponding to the Indie,napolis 
convention in 1923, was held in Detroit, Michigan, in 
December, 1927. The delegates included 2440 students 
from 593 colleges and universities in United States and 
Canada, together with students from tv/enty-three foreign 
countries . 

From this conference came the convictions 
that a considerable number of students were still inter- 
ested in missions, but that in order to hold the interest 
and command the support of forward-looking students , changes 
will have to be made in both the missionary policy and 

1 - Religion On The Campus . Report of Milwaukee Convention, 
The "S-:.-;ci: tion Press, I'.cw h'orh, IS 27, p. 1 f. 


method, freeing it from denominat ionalism and commer- 
cialism. Some of the leaders said that it was the most 
conservative group of students they had ever met, and 
others said it was the most liberal group. The delegates 

were or ob ably a fair cross-section of that group of stu- 


dents in America who are interested in religion. 

V Evaluation of Confer ences : 

An evaluation of the benefits of these con- 
ferences is difficult, for the standards set are high, and 
many of the students who attend are not a ble to live out 
the principles set forth. They are of great educational 
value, for in the discussion groups following the platform 
addresses, the students may ask any questions and express 
their own thinking on the subject. For many, these con- 
ferences are of great benefit, for the importance and scope 
of religion in its application to personal and social pro- 
blems is res.ll zed for the first time. 

1 ~ S tudents and the Future of Christian Missions , Student 
Volunteer Movement, New York, 1928 . Foreword. 




In this endeavor to . conclude our findings 
\ regarding the general trends of student thinking about 

religion, we fully recognize the difficulties presented. 
Among the thousands of students, varied opinions are 
held, and we can only outline the main currents of 
thought, 7/ithout attempting an evaluation. 

There are rather well-defined groups evident on 
every campus, "but just how many constitute each group 
we eannot say. If we take the opinion of two educators, 
expressed in the following quotations, the group inter- 
ested in vital religion is small, but there is evidence 
that the number in this group is slowly increasing. 

Dr. Ernest H.Wilkins, President of Oberlin College, 
said that out of a group of one thousand students, one 
hundred were religious minded, one hundred had dispensed 
with religion, and the other eight hundred were indiffer- 
ent to it, feeling that they were strong and vigorous, 
sitting on top of the world., but in this last mentioned 

group, there was an undercurrent of unselfish desire to 


do worth-while things. 

Another writer states that ninety college students 
out of every hundred are restless , eager and full of life, 
taking the existing social order for granted, only wanting 

1 - wilkins, Ernest H. , Religion Among College Lien, 

New York Times Mag az ine, February 26, 1923. 


that which will make them happy. They do not have the 
capacity to think constructively for themselves and go 
with the crowd. There is a small group of young 'rebels' 
who would scrap all the present social organization and 
establish a new order of things governed "by freedom of 
expression. A third group, imall, too, of active idea-l- 
ists want to save what is "best, revitalizing the church 

and society by understanding more fully and practicising 


the ideals of Jesus. 

W# find that a great change has come about 
in the conception of what constitutes religion. For the 
college student of today, religion is a life principle 
which works in men and society, for their improvement. The 
crucial religious issue of today is whether the deep real 
ities which were expressed in the creeds and dogmas this 
generation is discarding can be re-embodied by them in 
vital terms and living movements. 

Students today are not interested in the 
inspiration of the scriptures, and have little knowledge 
of the Old or the New Testament. Religion, however, is 
one of the most discussed subjects among students, and 
it is only its dead, outward symbols that are being dis- 
carded, not religion itself. Young people today want a 
religion that will help them better understand the pur- 
pose and meaning of life in order that they may be more 

1 - Owens, Ralph W. , Interpreting the Youth Movement, 
Religious E ducation, May, 1928, p. 455. 


useful. The present generation is asking "wha-'- "hall 
I do", ".''.-lie the older generation was more interested in 
the last half of the verse - "to he saved". 

Many students today "believe that the church 
has failed in its mission as a channel of divine strength, 
and guidance. It appears as an institution which has op- 
posed scientific progress, repressed wholesome recreation, 
reinforced economic oppression and worked for imperialism. 

Some of those who criticize the church do so 
through ignorance of the work of the church, end through 
the failure to recognize that the churches 1 progress de- 
pends entirely on the progress of its members in their 
spiritual life. It may truly he said that a few of the 
members of this generation are intellectually conceited 
and they need to investigate conditions more fully and 
study the existing organizations more carefully before 
they discard them entirely. 

If the church is to challenge the \ r oung 
people, it must show them Jesus as his first disciples 
saw Him, and let them discover Him for what He is. Each 
generation must do its own seeking and finding, for only 
as individuals discover Jesus for themselves will He change 
their life. President Little, formerly of Michigan, said 
that he believed this generation was nearer the truth 
about religion than ever before as they recognized the 


need of going "back to the fearless, courageous attitude 
of Christ, 

It is the consensus of opinion among reli- 
gious leaders and educators that the religious situation 
among college students today is the natural outcome of 
forces that have been working in American life for several 
generations. The reactions of youth are normal, "but the 
conditions which prompt the reactions are not, and the 
older generation is responsible for these conditions. 
Youth is molded by the environment in which it lives 
during its impressionable years. 

The main causes bringing about the change 
in the religious life of the younger generation have been: 
(1) T^e influence of home training, and of society as a 
whole. The materialistic age emphasizes the purely prac- 
tical to the exclusion of all things spiritual. Success 
is measured largely by economic standing and social posi- 
tion. (2) The growth of the scientific spirit, which began 
to shake the confidence in things formerl} 7 believed, and 
made the students unwilling to accept anything on faith. 
There has been a general decrease in the belief in old 
authorities, either church or home. (3) The war had a 
passing influence, but not as far reaching as some believe 
for the forces had been at work long before the war. In 
this country, the increased prosperity following the war- 
had a serious effect on the young people. 






There have "been man3 r changes down through 
the ages in the religious views of people. We find 
students today have a concept of religion different 
from that of even a generation or two ago. Then, 
religion was considered largely as a matter of con- 
formity to traditional forms. Today, the religious 
approach is different, and the students are more con- 
cerned with the inner experience than with statements 
of creeds or beliefs. Religion today is dealt with in 
psychological terms, and while the young people may ex- 
press their religious convictions in different terms 
than formerly, a large group of them are vitally inter- 
ested in finding out more about what religion really is. 

There a. re various types of religious awaken- 
ing, the Definite Crisis, the Emotional Stimulus and the 
Gradual Awakening. Ey far the largest number of relig- 
ious experiences today are of the Gradual Awakening type, 
in contrast to the sudden conversions that used to come 
from revival or camp meetings. 

Judging from the results of the surveys 
that have recently been made of the religious beliefs 
of students, they do not lose their belief in C-od during 
college days. The concept of G-od, however, changes 
decidedly. The majority of students come to college 
with their childish ideas of an anthropomorphic Gtod« 



As they come in contact with, the ideas of others, dif- 
fering from their own, they are forced to reconstruct 
their view. LCany experience doubts and difficulties for 
a time, but the greater number have their concepts changed 
for the better. The idea of a non-personal, judge-like 
God changes to one of a personal, father-like God. 

For students today, the Eible is no longer 
the infallible word of G-od. It is considered rather as 
a good working code of ethics, a beautiful collection of 
literature, having some historical signif icance. Lany 
Students are questioning the meaning and value of prayer. 
It has been £>und ineffectual, and while prayer is more 
common than Bible reading, young people today seem to 
believe in it mainly because of its psychological effects 
on the individual* 

There is much interest manifested among 
religious-minded students in the life and character of 
Jesus. Many fine courses on His life and teachings are 
being given in colleges. Through the study of the Gos- 
pels, students are trying to discover the real Jesus back 
of all the traditions that have grown up about Him. 

If we would believe all the alarming news- 
paper and magazine articles we read, we would think no 
students ever went to church. In one survey, comparison 
of student and resident church members showed that the 
students attended most regularly. Worship, inspiration 
and the development of the spiritual life were given as 



- 71- 

the main reasons for attending, and 'too busy 1 , 'not 
interested in religion' were the reasons for non-atten- 

For the roajority of serious-minded students, 
their religious life in college, influenced "by their 
scientific courses, contacts with professors, and re- 
ligious organizations, was deepened and enriched. If 
a student has brought to college as his religion a set 
of codes and creeds, accepted without questioning, he 
may lose his 'religion 1 , but a real religious faith 
usually gains in strength and permanence through col- 
lege years, 

A consideration of the influences that have 
been at work for the last few generations throws much 
light on the question "why" the beliefs of young people 
today are different from those of a preceding generation. 

The home training of the present younger gen- 
eration may be given as one of the underlying causes. The 
child is greatly influenced by the atmosphere of his home, 
and the home conditions are responsible for many of the 
present attitudes. During the time the parents of the 
present college students were g rowing up, some of the 
long established customs and beliefs were beginning to 
be questioned. Large groups of the people were giving up 
Bible reading; church attendance, and this doubting at- 
titude was sensed by the children. 




The great shifting of the population from the 
country to the city in the latter part of the nineteenth 
century necessitated many social and economic adjustments. 
The numerous inventions of that period — the telegraph.; 
cable, telephone, linotype and automobile — made communica- 
tion easier and distances shorter. As the years passed, 
the home was no longer the center of the child's life. 
Mis home duties and responsibilities were lessened, and 
he sought his social life outside the home and the church. 

Parental authority and responsibility greatly 
decreased, and in the mad pursuit of material possessions, 
parents neglected their children's training. The young 
people cannot be held entirely blamable for conditions 
brought about bjr their parents neglect. 

The war also had an effect, for during the im- 
pressionable years of the present student generation, seven 
to seventeen, people were living under terrific strain, 
and the orderly habits and customs of life were forgotten. 
The young people today are living in the world the older 
generation made for them and a few of the more thoughtful 
ones are questioning existing conditions, trying to find 
their place in the world. 

The growth of the scientific spirit is a fun- 
damental cause for many conditions existing today. The 
doctrine of evolution , with the great archeological dis- 
coveries undermined the belief in the infallibility of the 
Bible. The church in many cases opposed science, antag- 
onizing the young people toward the church. No religion 




or philosophy will hold young people today which does 
not take account of all the facts of existence — physical, 
social, psychological, spiritual — unify them into a sig- 
nificant whole, and correlate them with life. 

The changed conception of education is another 
influence that has helped to form the beliefs and attitudes 
of the present college students. Practically all of the 
endowed colleges were founded under religious auspices, 
the earliest ones "being organized specifically to provide 
an educated ministry for the church. The earl;/ school 
laws showed a decidedly religious aim in education, and 
state funds were used ~by schools under church control. 
As the number of sects increased, however, dissatisfac- 
tion arose, finally resulting in the separation of the 
schools from sectarian control. As a result of the Morrill 
Act of 1862, defining what courses should be taught in 
universities, more emphasis was put on mechanical, agri- 
cultural and commercial subjects than on philosophical and 
cultural subjects. 

The last twenty-five years have witnessed 
an enormous increase in the number of students attending 
colleges. There are now a little over half a million 
students in American colleges and universities. A large 
part of this group have had few cultural advantages at 
home, have rather mediocre minds, and turn to the college 
activities rather than to serious study. College activ- 
ities occupy a large share of the student's time today. 


There are only a comparatively few students who 
are questioning the present educational Byfitem, and 
its failure to train in the art of living. A few 
could probably be found on every campus, and in re- 
sponse to a demand and a recognition of need, several 
interesting experiments, such as the Experimental Col- 
lege at the University of Wisconsin, are now being 
carried on. 

There is a growing opinion that religion should 
be studied in college, for it has much to contribute 
to the problems of every-day living. College presi- 
dents, deans and professors are agreed that religion 
should be incorporated in the college curriculum and 
taught on a parity with philosophy, science, history 
and literature. 

There are many different organizations on the 
campus to care for the religious life of the students, 
and as to the effectiveness of these agencies, opinions 
vary widely* The school itself male es provision through 
chapel services and courses in religion. Compulsory 
chapel attendance is being abandoned, for the students 
have rebelled against it. Where chapel services are 
held, either voluntary or compulsory, the religious em- 
phasis has been lost. They are continued because of 
tradition, unification of the student body and for ad- 
ministrative convenience. 

Courses in religion are compulsory in denomina- 
tional colleges, their value depending largely upon the 


teacher. Dr. Herbert Searles of the University of Iowa 
recently made an extensive study of the courses in re- 
ligion taught in the state universities. The period of 
co-operation between the churches and state universities 
began in 1893 when the Disciples of Christ established 
the Ann Arbor Bible Chair at the University of Michigan. 
Today, different denominations provide funds for the es- 
tablishment of Bible Chairs in the larger universities. 

Dr. Searles found that nine of the forty-two 
tax supported universities in the United States gave no 
courses in religion. Thirty offered courses in religion 
as a part of the university curriculum. The University of 
Illinois offers fifteen courses, the largest number. Bib- 
lical Literature and the Philosophy of Religion were found 
to be the most popular courses. Courses in religion have 
proven to be of great va-lue to the students, and the num- 
ber of courses offered is being increased in several of the 
schools studied. 

The churches in college centers usually make 
special provision for the students. In the larger schools, 
the different denominations employ Student Pastors who 
work almost entirely with the students. Denominational 
foundations were found to be best developed at Cornell, 
Michigan, Illinois, Kansas and Wisconsin. The student 
opinion generally was favorable to theje religious workers, 
for they keep in constant touch with student thinking and 

The different denominations are now sponsoring 


- 76- 

significant youth conferences. The Methodist Student 
Conference at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1924, and the 
conference of the young people of the Disciples of 
Christ churches in Columbus, Ohio, in 1928, are men- 
tioned as representative of these denominational con- 

The Y.M.C.A. and Y.Vv.C.A. are doing effective 
religious work on some campuses, hut in a few places 
these organizations have "been discontinued. The Y.T/.C.A. 
seems to be functioning in a helpful way, and through its 
discussion groups on industry, peace and race has stimu- 
lated interest in national and international problems as 
expressions of the Christian spirit. The Y.M.C.A. has 
been criticized as having lost its religious purpose in 
its desire to be popular, and that now it is rather a 
social service agency. Many students feel that the 
Christian Associations are far ahead of the church in 
their thinking and in their application of christian 
principles to every-day living. The Y.M. and Y.W. sponsor 
ten-day summer conferences in different regions of the 
United States. Outstanding leaders in the various fields 
of thought are present and meet with the students after 
the platform lectures in discussion groups. 

There have been several significant inter- 
denominational student conferences held within recent 
years. The Student Volunteer conventions at Indianapolis, 
Indiana, In 1923, and at Detroit, Michigan, in 1927, con- 



sidered especially missionary work today. It was found 
that many students were still interested in missions, 
but that changes v/ould have to be made in both the mis- 
sionary policy and method, so that it would be freed 
from denominationalism and commercialism* 

The interdenominational conference at Evan- 
ston in 1925 considered especially the place of the 
church in the forward march of civilization. The 
National Student Conference at Milwaukee in 1926 was 
built around the subject: "What Sources Has Jesus For 
Life In Our World?". 

All of these conferences give the students 
opportunities to meet with student leaders of other 
schools, and from other nations, contact with the 
finest religious leaders and thinkers, and. many come 
to realize the importance of religion in its applica- 
tion to personal and social problems. 

It is necessarjr that we consider what the 
students are saying about their religious beliefs, but 
the real test of any religion is in faith and life. 
The students of this generation are superior to those 
of previous generations in moral character and in their 
readiness to serve. This was the opinion expressed by 
those who have been in close touch with students for 
many years, and from the investigations recently con- 

The;: are more frank, impatient of control, 


perhaps, but straight forward, idealistic, and ready 
for service when religion presents its great motives 
in sane and understandable terms. College students 
today are less inclined to talk about their faith 
than were those of a previous generation, and they 
hesitate to accept creeds, but an increasing r 
are restlessly seeking for the answer to Life's 
problems that only religion can give* 




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